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Portrait of Elizabeth II in art and popular culture

- 11/09/2022
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Since her coronation in 1953 (after her accession to the throne in 1952 following the death of her father), Queen Elizabeth 2 has been much talked about in the arts and popular culture. The most eccentric artists have, according to their style, transformed the smooth face and strict appearance of the sovereign into a punk, pop or rock'n'roll figure. Most representations of the monarch were primarily intended to give her a more human side.



During her reign, the Queen of the United Kingdom posed for over 175 portraits. She was portrayed at work or with her family, by famous artists such as Lucien Freud, Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz.

Cecil Beaton was notably the photographer who captured the Queen's official coronation photos. Rejecting the static alignments common to all photos of the royal family, the English photographer chose to use the distinctive architecture of Buckingham Palace to create shots with a dramatic edge.

Lucian Freud painted a picture of the British monarch in 2001. The work of the man considered one of the most influential figurative painters of his time is both critically acclaimed and admired. The British newspaper The Guardian called it the best royal portrait of the last 150 years.


Among the artistic representations of the Queen, the most famous are certainly those made in 1985 by Andy Warhol, the pope of pop art and street art. They were part of the Reigning Queens series, a silk-screen print by the American artist about the female regents of the time. In addition to Queen Elizabeth 2, the series featured Queen Margaret II (Margrethe II of Denmark), Queen Beatrix (Netherlands) and Queen Ntombi Twala (Swaziland).


Warhol's depiction of the Queen was based on a postage stamp produced in 1977 for her Silver Jubilee. The design is purposely characterised by high colour saturation, softening the cold, stark image that the people of the UK had of their sovereign.

On display at the National Portrait Gallery, Andy Warhol's work appears to be a tribute to the Queen, but much more to the woman herself than to the sovereign. Although the Queen has never commented on the silkscreen, she has purchased four of her portraits created by the pop art star for the Royal Collection.


Discover our selection of works inspired by Queen Elizabeth II


    Elizabeth II in art and popular cultur


    During her lifetime, the Queen of England gave very few interviews. Despite this fact, she was the most publicised sovereign of the United Kingdom during her reign. Her life has inspired many television programmes, plays and films. For example, in "Her Majesty the Queen" she faces the anger of her people after the death of Princess Diana in 1997. In the film, her character was played by Helen Mirren, whose performance won her an Oscar for best actress.

    She also appeared as a child in 'The King's Speech'. This film, which tells the story of George VI's struggle to overcome his stammer, also won an Oscar.

    The series that has most prominently featured the life of the British monarch is "The Crown". This Netflix series revealed the Queen's married life with her husband Prince Philip, as well as the various scandals and political crises she had to deal with during her reign.

    The British monarch is also featured in cartoons such as "The Simpsons" and "Peppa Pig", and in films such as "Is there a Cop to Save the Queen?" and "The Minions".


    Anniversaries and jubilees under the seal of popular cultur


    The British monarch used to celebrate her birthdays and anniversaries with great pomp and circumstance. For example, for her 92nd birthday, Elizabeth 2 invited many pop artists, including Sting, Shawn Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, David Craig and of course Elton John.

    It is worth noting that Elton John was knighted by the British monarch in 1998, and has since sung the praises of the British monarchy through his music.


    portrait queen elizabeth 2 film james bond

    During the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, the Queen took part in a sketch in which she played herself. In it, she is seen welcoming actor Daniel Craig (as James Bond) to Buckingham and even giving him a line, while surrounded by his corgis.

    The two actors then pretend to climb aboard a helicopter and fly over London before parachuting into the Olympic Stadium. It is later revealed that it was an understudy who jumped from the helicopter, but this does not detract from the charm of the scene.

    The Sovereign of the British and Commonwealth also appeared in a video in 2016 alongside her grandson Prince Harry and US President Barack Obama. The video was to promote the Invictus Games, an international event inspired by the Paralympics and created by Prince Harry specifically for injured soldiers.

    The Queen's last appearance in a sketch was only in June 2022, during the Platinum Jubilee celebrating her 70th year on the throne. In a short video, the Queen was seen having tea with Paddington Bear.

    Then, in sync with the opening of the giant concert at Buckingham Castle, she tapped her silver spoon on her china cup. This little scene was a real surprise for the British people and helped to reinforce their admiration for her.

    Given all these tributes in the arts world, Queen Elizabeth 2 deserves her title as an icon of popular culture. She has also influenced fashion, with her colourful outfits designed by famous designers such as Hardy Amies, Angela Kelly and Norman Hartnell. She also inspired even more famous designers such as Christian Dior, Givenchy, Chanel and Stella McCartney.

    This article was brought to you by Carré d'artistes. Launched in 2001 by Stéphanie Tossi, a young entrepreneur with a passion for artistic creation, Carré d'artistes aims to help you find your favourite art. We have only one desire: to offer you works of all styles at fixed prices, without skimping on quality.

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